Mike Pompeo to focus on defence, trade ties during visit to India

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to use Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election campaign slogan — “Modi hai to mumkin hai — to explore new frontiers of bilateral relations during his upcoming India visit during which he expects discussions on a host of issues, including trade.

 

In a speech roughly etching the contours of his planned June 24 visit, Pompeo confirmed the US approval and offer of sale of high-tech defence equipment to India such as armed drones, Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) and Patriot-3.

 

Pompeo said one of the signature contributions of Donald Trump’s administration to the India-US relations was its “far tougher stand on Pakistan’s unacceptable support for terrorism in the region compared to the previous dispensations.

 

He, however, said there was plenty more the two countries could do together. As Prime Minister Modi said in his latest campaign – he said, ‘Modi Hai to Mumkin Hai’, ‘Modi makes it possible’. I’m looking forward to exploring what’s possible between our two peoples.

 

The top American diplomat’s visit to India comes amid trade tensions exacerbated by the cancellation of India’s eligibility for a special trade status that allowed it to send goods worth $6 billion in 2018 free of import duty, and difficult conversations forced by US sanctions on Iranian crude and Russian defence deals such as the S-400 missile defence system.

 

After underscoring the Trump administration’s “tougher” posture on Pakistan’s support for terrorism, Pompeo offered a clear and complete understanding of India’s concerns over China and Pakistan. We respect India as a truly sovereign, important country, with its own unique politics and its own unique strategic challenges, he said. We get it. We realise it’s different to deal with the likes of China and Pakistan from across the ocean than it is when they are on your borders.

 

There has been growing convergence between India and the US on challenges posed by China and Pakistan, and American and Indian diplomats have cited as proof the extra lengths the US went to force China to allow the UN Security Council to designate Masood Azhar, the founder-leader of Jaish-e-Mohammed, a Pakistan-based terrorist outfit that claimed responsibility for the Pulwama terror attack.